The Impact of Mormonism on the Enjoyment of God as an Artist

C.S. Lewis once wrote,

“It was when I was happiest that I longed most… The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing… to find the place where all the beauty came from.” – Till We Have Faces

In his essay “Christianity and Literature,” he also wrote,

“[An] author should never conceive of himself as bringing into existence beauty or wisdom that did not exist before, but simply and solely as trying to embody in terms of his own art some reflection of eternal Beauty and Wisdom. (“Christianity and Literature,” Journal of the Society of Christians in the Arts, Inc. 1, no. 2 (1975): 22)”

And Jerram Barrs writes in his article, “Christianity and the Arts” (PDF):

“Our work in any field of the arts will be imitative. We will be thinking God’s thoughts after Him—painting with His colors; speaking with His gift of language; exploring and expressing His sounds and harmonies; working with His creation in all its glory, diversity, and in-built inventiveness. In addition, we will find ourselves longing to make known the beauty of life as it once was in Paradise, the tragedy of its present marring, and the hope of our final redemption. All great art will contain this element of being an echo of Eden: Eden in its original glory, Eden that is lost to us, and Eden restored.” (pg 7)

The last two of three quotes above were taken from this Desiring God blog post.

I’ve had this blog post in draft mode for quite some time, and I think its timing is ironic. This past Tuesday I had two LDS missionaries over for dinner and we got to talking about the glory of God. One of them, Elder J., described God’s gifts as “hand-me-down” gifts (that is his word), since God has what he has, especially knowledge and power, after having learned it from another God.

Is your God a “hand-me-down” Artist? When you find the God of this earth, are you really finding where all the ultimate beauty comes from? When you consider nature and beauty and happiness and eternal law[1] and the plan of salvation (whatever you think all that is), do you think of it all as ultimately coming from our God, or having been passed down a chain of gods?

I want to know where all the beauty really comes from, and then worship (worship, after all, is the consummation of my pleasure and delight). If our God is not the Ultimate Artist then I will go in search of the one who is.

[1] “The laws and ordinances by which men and women are exalted in the celestial kingdom of our God are eternal and do not change—and because they are eternal, they predate even God.” (Alonzo Gaskill, Odds Are, You’re Going to Be Exalted: Evidence That the Plan of Salvation Works, p. 8, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2008)

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95 Responses to The Impact of Mormonism on the Enjoyment of God as an Artist

  1. Goldarn says:

    Back when I was at BYU, a person in the house where I lived had the "Habitrail Theory." Basically, the entire universe was artificial, like a Habitrail or aquarium. A substitute environment for us to grow up in.
    Just like a fish or a gerbil lives, sleeps, gets fed, all inside, so do we. All the stars are nothing more than those plastic plants the goldfish swim in.
    I only mention this because I think it vaguely relates.

    I get what you mean about the ultimate source of things. It's like, instead of God, we just report to a middle manager. The CEO never visits our plant.

    And, of course, we can never even mention the name of the CEO's wife.

  2. faithoffathers says:


    You seriously crack me up! Talk about creativity. You must be constantly thinking of how you can spin every possible thing into a criticism of the church. There must be an algorithm in your head into which the smallest of comments or impressions go in and out comes such caricatures of the what the church really is. Comments like these show how really off-base some people are in understanding the LDS church and its philosophy and teachings.

    But I suppose the purpose is to make an impression. And LDS critics who read your comments will likely interpret them as truth and of value, further motivating the never-ending cycle of mindless criticism.

    The irony in your profound thoughts is that the LDS believe God has created worlds without number- there is literally no limit to His creativity, power, and beauty. LDS could criticize your belief that God’s saving influence is limited to this earth.

    P.S. I get the impression that you are not entirely honest with the missionaries. Do you give them reason to believe you are interested in understanding what they have to offer? Do you lure them in, acting like you might consider what they teach? Why do you have them over for dinner? Christ-like love, right?

  3. SteveH says:


    Needless to say that the “Habitrail Theory” is not LDS doctrine notwithstanding the personal musings of some BYU co-ed.

    Further, there are many instances of God the Father (your CEO figure) of being directly involved in the affairs of men.

  4. As a personal policy, I am up front with LDS missionaries, telling them that although I have curiosity on all things religious, and that I am interested in them as people, I shouldn’t be considered a “golden contact” or normal investigator. I have them over for dinner as much as I can, to make them feel warmly welcomed as neighbors, but not as fellow Christian brothers.

    As for the “hand-me-down” phrase, that was the phrase of Elder J., not me. My wife was sitting right next to me, would you like an affidavit signed by her? Do you want me to start audibly recording the conversations for you? I’m sure that would really cause a stir…

    Elder J. also told me:

    1. God the Father was once a sinner.

    2. God the Father is still progressing in knowledge.

    3. We can only be certain that God created the planets in our particular solar system. We should assume there are other solar systems in the universes that other Gods and Saviors created.

    People like Elder J. aren’t figments of my imagination. They are real, living, breathing Mormons who eat dinner at my table, who sit on my couch, and who shake my hand. And no, I cannot bend spoons.

  5. SteveH says:

    > Aaron,
    Regarding your comments, I would disagree with your portrayal of LDS doctrine wherein God is a “hand-me-down” artist – in other words there is no originality in His creations.

    God the Father spoke to Moses face to face and declared:
    Moses 1:3 – 4
    And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless? And, behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease.

    Moses 1:33
    Worlds without number have I created.

    For what purpose did God create this world?
    God the Father declared to Moses:
    Moses 1:39
    For behold, this is my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

    Further God the Father declares:
    Moses 2: 1
    I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God; by mine Only Begotten (Jesus) I created these things; yea, in the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth upon which thou standest.

    It would be inaccurate in LDS doctrine to portray God the Father as a “hand-me-down Artist”.

  6. Steve, please use the “reply” feature so that your responses are connected to the relevant comment.

    I’m aware of lots of things in your Standard Works that don’t jive with modern institutional and mainstream Mormonism. Please see here where I argue, “We must not naively assume that any given religion is functionally equivalent to the original meaning of its historical canon.” If I equated your extra-biblical canon with Mormonism, I would have to conclude that Jehovah is the Father, that Mormonism is a religion of modalism, and that being subject to the devil is the final state of those who procrastinate their repentance. But none of those three notions are representative of modern Mormonism.

    Grace and peace,


  7. SteveH says:


    Aaron you are being rather harsh on FoF by sending him to the penalty box for a week. Really, there seems to be a double standard here wherein “Mormon” critics can say a lot of really nasty things about the LDS Church with no censure whatsoever.

    This does not bode well for having a fair and balanced forum.

  8. SteveH, if you see any non-Mormons going to the same degree of non-constructive personal attacks, then please feel free to e-mail us reporting the violation.

    And by the way, FoF isn’t in the “penalty box”. The card lowers his daily limit of eight comments a day to six. Further violations lower the daily limit.

    By the way, complaining about moderation isn’t constructive either. Stick to the subject of the OP and you none of this will even be a problem.

  9. SteveH says:


    I read those links provided and I would disagree with your statement that:
    “lots of things in your Standard Works don’t jive with modern institutional and mainstream Mormonism”.

    It would appear that critics such as Ronald Huggins are being somewhat selective in the use of sources to build an argument for the notion that Mormonism was ever a religion of modalism. This is simply not the case. The same can be said of the notion that being subject to the devil is the final state of those who procrastinate their repentance and similarly with Section 109 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

    Nevertheless I can see how someone who is not familiar with LDS doctrine and culture can make those errors of interpretation.

  10. germit says:

    Good post, AARON; it may not seem like much to you, but the fact that you regularly have mishies over for dinner (eating WITH them, not upon them, I’ll assume….) speaks volumes for your concern and friendship with them as people. To do that and keep an edge on your doctrine and views is tricky and admirable. Keep it up.

    The article makes me think of how carelessly we use the word ‘create’ and ‘creative’ when it comes to people. We really only REFLECT (however imperfectly) GOD”S unique creative ability. Add that to the list of what ONLY GOD HIMSELF can, and will, do.

    The web-site looks bright and sparkly . GERMIT

    like the edit function , as well

    is there a way of seeing RECENT comments in the right margin, like the old days, instead of having to scroll down an individual thread to see those ????

  11. Ralph says:

    I do not see Heavenly Father as a ‘hand-me-down artist’. Just remember that phrase was from one person and was most likely his own ideology (and possibly others) but its not mainstream and its definitely not doctrine. There is much that can be created differently and much that can be presented in a different manner. Look at music – there are basically 12 notes in music and there are millions of different pieces of music and representations of music and it has not yet finished being created by artists. Some compositions sound similar, some are remakes but many are original. Some use influences and so are constructed along a similar vein while others are out of no where. Again, look at painting – there are many different styles and a near infinite number of colours. Artists are still painting original art works.

    This is how I see Heavenly Father – an artist that can change and mould what He has at will and create it into anything He wants and how He wants – and it can be different to what was in the past or it can be the same or it can be similar. What’s to stop God from making them the size of watermelons and grow at the drop af a hat? Or what about creating a fruit that tastes like apple, banana and mango, because that’s a nice juice mix. And the list can go on. If you look at many scifi movies and books, look at all the life forms imagined there. We do not have anything that looks like some of those on this planet. Yes they could be in existence elsewhere, but if not that does not mean that God cannot create them. So yes I disagree with that missionaries point of view.

  12. Nathan16 says:

    Just so people know, this is TXNathan. Nathan16 is my wordpress username.

    Being an amateur (and probably quite poor) poet, author, and musician, I personally love the idea of God being an artist. It also shows why there are so many classic literary devices in the Bible; God is the source of literary creativity.

    I think if we look at Mormonism logically, it shows that their god is limited in creativity.
    Think of it this way: an artist in our universe never makes his medium out of nothing. He uses paint, or paper, or writing. He may make his own medium, like oils or pastels, but these are made out of other substances, and so forth. Therefore, the artists of this universe are necessarily limited to his mediums, however vast these may be. We can say that for practical purposes, our mediums are limitless, but if we are seeking truth, we can’t just stick to what is practical. Our mediums may be even less limitless than it seems, not knowing a universe without these limits.
    So it is with the god of Mormonism. He did not create his medium out of nothing; he was limited to pre-existing matter. The triune God of mainline Christianity, however, did make His medium out of nothing, as He invented matter. He could conceivably create another medium beyond our comprehension. He could conceivably create something where a “medium” is irrelevant. Therefore, logically, the Mormon deity would be more limited in artistry than the Christian God. I would say nothing about the originality of the Mormon deity, as Steve H suggests above that the Mormon deity is very creative. I don’t think that’s the issue, and if it is, it’s quite subjective. If we look at it logically in terms of mediums, then necessarily the Mormon deity is more limited artistically than the Christian God.

  13. GB says:


    The old “My god is more powerful than your god” argument.


    I suppose the fact that your god CAN’T create another being like himself (or is it herself or itself?), where as mine CAN, turns your argument on its head.


    Can we leave the grade school arguments behind please.

  14. Respond with more constructive, mature comments than this.

  15. Everyone, please take a second look at Ralph’s comment. There are things in it that I theologically and philosophically take issue with (which I will note later), but I think it is a great example of a substantive Mormon comment that added something constructive to our interaction here on Mormon Coffee. Thank you, Ralph, for your consistency in this. I don’t agree with you on most things, but I really value the way you interact with us.

  16. germit says:

    I won’t pick at what an individual Mormon missionary said, but I would stand by AARON and say his (the missionaries) comment tells us something……he did not come up with that idea in a vaccuum.

    In looking at the picture you posted, and of course nature itself, I think about JS pathetically absurd idea that WE could one day become an entity that could send planets and stars whirling about in celestial splendor…..that kind of hubris would be laughable, if it were not so damnable. I say this in as measured and ‘trying not to incite” a way as possible: that man, Joseph Smith, did not have a clue as to GOD, the Maker of the Universe, that he was talking to. We are, and will forever be, so NOT LIKE GOD.

    the biblical idea and teaching of ‘becoming like God” knows nothing of this kind of progression or outcome (world making/creating) God is not honored by such a specious “raising of the bar” reg. sanctification or growth.

  17. DefenderOfTheFaith says:


    extra-biblical canon with Mormonism:

    Jehovah is the Father: we “become” sons and daughter of Christ through the atonement. Jehovah doesn’t appear until Genesis 2, while Elohim (speaking to someone else) comprises Genesis 1. Just because Jesus is the Son of God doesn’t make Him any less of a Father to us since he is the author and finisher of our Faith.

    Modalism: If Jehovah is the God of the OT and runs the affairs of this world under the direction of His Father, why is any prophet wrong in calling Jesus (Jehovah) the Father. To them the atonement was/is eternal, thus making Him the Father in a very real sense.

    Being subject to the devil: All those who do not reach exaltation will have become eternally subjected to the will of the devil. What is his will? To oppose God. In what way? Stopping the progression of His children to what was their divine heritage. Exaltation is the design of God and anything short of this means we have been taken captive by the will of the devil.

    I don’t see how these are not mainstream Mormon theology today.

  18. DefenderOfTheFaith says:


    Since you the doctrine so well, I would suggest that you remind the Elders that their calling is to testify and not speculate. Whether they or you think that is foolishness, remind them that if they believe what they are teaching is true, then they had better follow the command to testify and warn the people and not teach for commandments the doctrine of men (their own speculations). Probably won’t make for very interesting dinner dates!

  19. SteveH says:


    Contrary to your assertions, Joseph Smith did indeed know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ – perhaps better than any man who has ever lived. That you limit yourself in believing that man will only be as he is now in this life does not negate the truth of man’s divine potential.

    As Psalm 82:6 states:
    I {God} have said Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High”

    Jesus himself impressed the importance of this concept by quoting it to the Pharisees

    John 10:34
    Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?

    That we are to become like our Heavenly Father is made evident by such statements by Christ.

    Matthew 5:48
    Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

    It is the religionist of Christ’s time and our own day and age who persist in false notion that there is an unfathomable chasm between man and God. Modern revelation (as does the Old and New testaments) teaches us that we are indeed the sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father and that we, as such, have the divine potential to become like him.

  20. gundeck says:


    The first rule of understanding the Bible is the a verse taken out of context is only a pretext.

    Take a look again at Psalm 82. In verse 1 we see, “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.” The question is who are the “gods”? They are those who judge unjustly and accept the wicked. They have failed to follow the law by defending the the poor and doing justice to the needy. They do not know or understand the law and walk in darkness.

    I am not sure how you can think that this passage defends your position that man has the potential to become a god.

    Taken in it’s proper context, and understanding that Jesus is quoting Psalm 82:6, John 10:34 can only be seen as Jesus condemning the Jews who were about the stone him. He is telling them that they have judged him unjustly.

    Clearly this passage does not help your case either.

  21. SteveH says:


    The meaning of Psalm 82 is plain and clear in its context; namely the Lord declaring that we (albeit unjust) “are children of the most High” and as such “Ye are gods”. It this were not so then why, why, why would the Lord proclaim it as such. Perhaps it is you who has misinterpreted this scripture.

    This is the great problem of Protestant theology in that so many biblical scholars and theologians come up with starkly contrasting interpretations of the same scripture. Thus that is why there are over 5,000 Protestant sects each interpreting the same scripture in their own fashion and disagreeing one with another on every imaginable doctrinal topic. Hence the great need in this day and age for modern revelation and the authority of prophets of God to rectify doctrine and understanding of God’s Word.

    I think we had a similar discussion over Corinthians 7 concerning Paul’s views on marriage.

  22. Hence the great need in this day and age for modern revelation and the authority of prophets of God to rectify doctrine and understanding of God’s Word.

    SteveH, you are aware that your own leaders have offered conflicting interpretations of John 10:34, right (cf. Talmage’s agreement with the traditional Protestant interpretation)?

    “Divinely Appointed Judges Called Gods-In Psalm 82:6. . . .” (James E. Talmage, Jesus The Christ, 501; 15TH ed.).

    See more on this subject here.

  23. Megan says:

    Steve, it was common for ancient cultures such as Israel’s to call kings, judges, and other authority figures ‘gods’ or ‘sons of god’ because of their power and position. The psalmist was specifically speaking a word of judgement against corrupt Israelite leaders. They refused to rescue those who had no defense (verses 2-4). Vs. 7 reminds the ‘gods’ that although they have power, they too will someday die “like mere men” and “like every other ruler”. Vs. 8 ends the Psalm with a plea for God, the ultimate Judge, to judge the earth (and, by extension, these ‘gods’, or judges).

  24. SteveH says:


    I am not familiar with Talmage’s interpretation of John 10:34 and somehow I doubt that his interpretation is what you claim it to be. Nevertheless, Talmage most certainly affirms that Psalm 82: “we are children of the most High”. My point is that if this were not the case (i.e. “we are the children of the most High” and “Ye are gods”) then why, why, why would the writer of psalms make such a declaration in the first place and why, why, why would Jesus affirm the correctness of this declaration “Ye are gods” by quoting it to the Pharisees who were about to stone Him precisely because Christ was proclaiming that he was the Son of God.

    It is precisely on this issue of claiming to be a god that the Jews were about to stone Christ. As Gundeck said, it is important to place a scripture in its context. The very preceding scripture John 10:33 the Pharisees state:
    “For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.”

    Christ retorted and quoted back to the Pharisees what is clearly written in Psalm 82; namely that the Lord, Himself, declared that “Ye are gods”

    I would like to stress that Christ’s quoting of Psalm 82 has noting to do with the Pharisees making an unjust judgment on Christ but rather concerns Christ’s claim to be the Son of God which the Jews took to be blasphemy.

  25. Megan says:

    FoF: Jehovah and Elohim are one and the same. Elohim is just the Hebrew’s word for ‘God’, like you and I would say ‘God’ in English. Specifically for the ‘God’ of the ancient Israelites, who they of course thought of as the one true God of the universe. Jehovah is God’s sacred, personal name, from the Tetragrammaton (meaning ‘the four letters’) YHWH. Anytime you see LORD in the Bible it would be translated as ‘Yaweh’ or ‘Jehovah’. This isn’t the best analogy, but imagine if someone wrote a book about me, and in the first chapter I was referred to as ‘Woman’, and in the second chapter referred to me as ‘Megan’. Does this look correct, Biblical scholars?

  26. gundeck says:


    I hope that all is well with you. This is my last post for the day.

    It is true that there are many Protestant Churches and some of them hold differing views on every subject in the Bible. Your choice of 5000 is interesting and shows that you either fail to understand or to admit that there are far fewer theologicaly driven distinctions than you propose. Christ’s Church has sadly been devided more by geography and global politics than theology.

    For instance what is the theological difference between the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) and the Presbyterian Church America (PCA)? Verry little if any, they both subscribe to the Westminster Confession. Simply these are two denominations that have in their own time split from their respective Northern and Southern Presbyterin Mainline denominations. These Mainline denominations PCUS and PCUSA were devided in 1861 do to the “Late Unpleasentness” but have reunited into the PC(USA).

    One should also recognise the serious congrgationist influence in the United States. Many of these Churches hold the same views theologicaly but choose to act indpendant of a denomination.

    This does not mean that there has not been division on theological grounds. The Lutheran and Reformed Churches and the split over the views on the Sacriments comes to mind. This also does not mean that there has not been serious and devergent views held inside the same denomination.

    When you take all of this into account and look at the great number of off shoot churches and theologies inside your own denomination I think you will come to agree that the 5000 denomination argument is a straw man.

    The second rule of interpriting Scripture is to use scripture itself as the judge of interpritation. The Westminster devines said it better than I can, “The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.” (WCF I, IX)

    I will refer you to Deuteronomy 6:4, 5. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

    I would also recomend the NET bible with translation notes available online.

  27. Walrus says:

    LDS view-God created worlds without end out of nothing (particles of matter in thier most basic form, without composition, without use, comprising no element, nor form that could be recognized…nothing)
    Nathan/Ev’s view-God created worlds without end out of nothing…
    What is the definition of nothing? God does not go into great detail as to how miracles are brought to past…and I’m not surprised that it was not written “…created worlds without number out of clouds of subatomic particles”. Although I would never put my eggs in the basket of science alone, there are truths that can be dicerned from the practice. Energy never ceases to exist…matter never ceased to exist…they just change forms.
    How much more creativity is needed to sculpt and mold materials with set properties and limits and yet be limitless with your creations rather than having genie like abilities and -POOF-, its there.

  28. Walrus says:

    In John 10:31-38, the Jews are seeking to stone Christ…“…It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” (vrs33)…to which Christ qoutes Psalms
    “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—; do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (vrs34-36)
    That is to say, why is it blasphemy for Chirst to call himself the Son of God when it is written that God named those who recieved his word as gods? It is NOT blasphemy for God himself said it was so.
    As an extension, whenever we exercise pure charity, when we commit an act that Christ himself would have done if he were here then we, for that one moment, are truely Christlike…Godlike…for what we gave is what would have been given, yet we did so in the stead thereof.

  29. Walrus says:

    How could a society which condemns idol worship call their leaders gods (and is condoned by God)? Why, if God sees it as blasphemy, would God call us such on many a different occasion? These leaders, these kings and priests were called by God to their positions (safe to say since God has been shown to call prophets and kings ei-David)…They were to be an example as well as a leader. God spoke to them, taught them, that they may teach those ‘subjected’ unto them. God used/uses symbolism to teach. Ancient Isreael looked to the High Priest as the supreme authority in the temple…in the acts of atonement, just as we now look to Jesus Christ as the Supreme High Preist to whom we look to for redemption.
    The Book of Mormon shares many insights on the role of leadership…how the king, prophet or priest was to work the land for their own sustaining…that to be the greatest is to be the servant of all (not excusive to the BoM)…to be in the service of your fellow man is to be in the service of God. Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are glorious to behold for although they be Gods, they bless us, they are there for our every need, despite our naturally sinful state!
    I dare say that ancient Isreael had an idea about their divine potential, and it’s appropriatness for consideration. A principle that was comfortable for open discussion in the scriptures has, as had been with the Pharisees, been misunderstood to be blasphemy. Truely, the context in which this topic has been introduced is inflametory. Its the context, not the content, that is to blame. Such common usage and thought in biblical times denotes a broader perspective than evangelists are willing to allow.

  30. gundeck says:


    I think that this has been explained above but please consult the NET bible with translation notes it is helpful. You are misunderstanding the use of the word translated “god” and assuming that it is referring to a divine like being that has some relation to God.

    Looking at the NET translation note we see:

    “the present translation assumes that the Hebrew term אֱלֹהִים (’elohim, “gods”) here refers to the pagan gods who supposedly comprise El’s assembly according to Canaanite religion. Those who reject the polemical view of the psalm prefer to see the referent as human judges or rulers (אֱלֹהִים sometimes refers to officials appointed by God, see Exod 21:6; 22:8-9; Ps 45:6) or as angelic beings (אֱלֹהִים sometimes refers to angelic beings, see Gen 3:5; Ps 8:5).”

    We see that there are three possibilities presented; 1 pagan gods, 2 human judges appointed by God, or 3 angelic beings. Each of these possibilities is more consistent with Scripture than the assumption that this passage shows the potential for future godhood.

  31. Steve, Merry Christmas! (See bottom of p. 501)

    Do you think the Pharisees of John 10 are good candidates for godhood as understood by Mormonism?

  32. Ralph says:


    “Elohim” should really be translated as “Gods” in English. The ancient Hebrews (ie atound Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’s time) were most likely polytheists according to many current archaeologists. In fact one TV show I have watched states that they believed in a head God (making them Henotheists), His wife/consort, their Son and a messenger. It is the only show/article I can find that states anything clearly like that about their ‘God-system’ so I cannot make any other observations about whether this is accepted by many or just that person’s opinion.

    Just to let you know – the presenter/researcher was not and is not an LDS member. He was a British journalist that was held hostage in the Middle East for a period of time and forced during this emprisonment to read and compare the Koran and Bible by his muslim captors. The show is called “It ain’t necessarily so” and I wish I taped it as it was very interesting, even though he tried to debunk the Bible.

  33. Lautensack says:

    Ralph wrote: “Elohim” should really be translated as “Gods” in English.
    Ralph this translation, Elohim as “gods,” is only valid in some places. Other places the verb usage demands that it be translated in the singular. Sort of you don’t really think Elizabeth II is two people when she says “We are the Queen of England.” We wouldn’t think she was more than one person. Not exactly the same but you get the point.


  34. LDSSTITANIC says:

    I am surprised that “Jehovah” is still persisting even among Evangelicals. This is another case of Joseph Smith copying the KJV without knowing it was inaccurate.
    We know now that the Jews inserted the vowels for the word Adonai in between the consonants of “The Name” (Transliterated from Hebrew as “Y” “H” “W” “H”). This was done so that someone reading from the text would not slip up and pronounce “The Name” by accident. Our early English translations did not take this into account (and might not even have been aware of it) and thus came up with Jehovah in translation.

    I take great delight in telling Jehovah’s Witnesses this bit of trivia…as they pride themselves on using the “right” name…HO HO HO!! Blessings!

  35. Megan says:

    LDSSTITANIC, I am a bit slow these days, but could you add on to more of what you were saying about Jehovah? I did know that one reason why the Book of Mormon has “and it came to pass” (to numbing effect on the reader), is because Smith slavishly copied the Hebrew letter meaning the same, which Jewish readers would have seen as the capital letter meaning the beginning of a sentence. In any case, I knew that during NT times Jews called God ‘Adonai’ instead of using “The Name”. But doesn’t ‘LORD’ in the OT and NT translate directly to YHWH/Jehovah/Yahweh?

  36. falcon says:

    So I hauled out one of my old systematic theology books and workbooks to see what it has to say. Now realize, that’s one of the major differences between Christianity and Mormonism. Christianity has a systematic theology while Mormonism prides itself on being unsystematic. In fact the less systematic the better for Mormon tastes. That way nothing is really nailed down in Mormonism and the flow of continuous revelation moves along unabatted. The Mormon god has a way of changing his mind and these Mormon prophets……..well let’s just say that sometimes it’s kind of difficult to know which of these dead guys to trust. Besides, what they said and did was a long time ago and really shouldn’t count……except for the claim that they spoke for the Mormon god whom we have established switches doctrine quite often.

    Elohim; God the ruler a Hebrew plural noun foreshadowing the Trinity in the OT. When the people of the OT referred to God in the plural form, what were they acknowledging? God who is God. Kings in the OT times used the plural form also in referring to themselves denoting that they were more than an ordinary mortal. Elshada: God the Almighty One, (EL) power and strenghth. Jehovah; personal Lord, the covenant name, He is personal. Everything said of Jehovah in the OT is said of Jesus in the NT. Jehovah-Jireh, provider; Jehovah-Rapha, healer; Jehovah-Nissi, Victory; Jehovah-Shalom, peace; Jehovah-Raah, Shepard; Jehovah-Tsidkenu, righteousness; Jehovah-Shammah, present; Jehovah-Mekaddaschem, sanctification

    Adonai; Master, Ruler, Lord

    Anyway, this was a way for the Hebrews to acknowledge the various aspects of what they saw as God’s nature, attributes and character. Now the Mormon god is not the God of the Bible as has been established quite often here on Mormon Coffee. So when we get into discussions such as this, we need to clarify if we are talking about the Mormon god of this planet system (at least) and God.

  37. Lautensack says:

    YHWH does translate to the LORD in the OT. However Jehovah is not in the OT it was created by simply taking the Name (YHWH) and adding the vocalic letters from Adonai to it. In the NT the word translated Lord is Kurios.


  38. DefenderOfTheFaith says:


    The only “systematic theology” I see at work here is to continually re-interept the scriptures in order to make the scriptures say something to fit a particular doctrine already committed to. This is Debate 101 to the tee! This lot, (I will not try to represent “Christianity”) has taken the position of the Trinity. A word that never even appears in the scriptures. Nevertheless, once committed you feel the need to explain the scriptures away despite all the evidence in the world.

    Elohim is plural in the Hebrew for a reason! Even if your explanation is correct, how do you explain the conversation mode in Genesis? “the man is become as one of US” or “let US make man in OUR own image”. We now have a plural word (really referring to a single God) talking to someone else (but really to Himself). How does one “systematically” dismantle that when that is how God has revealed Himself from the very beginning? I will tell you. By your (actually Aristotle is the father of this practice) reworking the scriptures to agree with your doctrine (I have utilized the Trinity as one example). Are we talking about the God who is first recorded in the scriptures (Elohim) or the Falcon god you are presenting?

  39. Megan says:

    Fof: Actually, the plural form “one of us”; “in our image”, is evidence of the Trinity. John 1:1-3 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” Jesus was the Word who was present at creation, and he was both with God and is God. It is not by chance that the language of John 1:1 is so similar to Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Jesus is the Word “made flesh” described in John 1:14.

  40. Megan says:

    Thanks, Lautensack. I knew that LORD was translated as ‘Kyrios’ in the NT, but was confused about ‘Jehovah’ in the OT. I have to go….my daughter just scribbled black marker all over her face.

  41. Ralph says:

    From what I have learned from various websites and TV shows, “Elohim” is the plural and “El” is the singular. If we look at Genesis and keep in mind that the ancient Hebrews were possibly polytheistic, then we get a better understanding as to the plural words in there like “us” and “our”, especially as the plural first person use of ‘we’ (and its companions) did not start getting used until Roman times.

    Again, from what I understand from various websites and TV shows, it was not until Moses that strict monotheism was enforced. But that can be seen as getting the Israelites out of the Egyptian polytheistic worship system and back to the worship of the one true God (ie the Law of Moses is described as a school master to bring the Israelites back to their God) not removing all polytheism, as the ancient Hebrews are better termed Henotheists (if the polythiesm idea is correct) whereas the Egyptians were polytheists in general.

    But that brings up a big question – If the ancient Hebrews were truely polytheistic/Henotheistic, then does this mean that the God of Christianity (ie the Bible) was one chosen out of many? And if so, then how was that one chosen? Does this not then parallel the Muslim religion where their ancestors were polytheists and then one (Allah) was chosen to be the one and only?

  42. Ralph says:


    The plural sentences you have refered to in Genesis not only support a “Trinity” but they also support, even more so, the LDS view of God and the Godhead. So no you do not have a monopoly on those phrases for proving the Trinity.

  43. Megan says:

    Ralph: Well, would you care to explain why then? Unfortunately, the subject of the nature of God/Godhead/Trinity is probably beyond the scope of this thread, but I am looking forward to discussing this subject further on a future thread. I am interested in what you have to say on this, however. I naturally get into tangents, so I have to be careful that I stay on subject, but maybe we can post things on this and they won’t get deleted for being off-topic. Good night, or I guess I should say Good morning to you in Australia!
    Take care, Megan

  44. falcon says:

    Well DOF what a tremendous statement you make re. explaining away the scriptures despite all of the evidence to the contrary. Fantastic. Perhaps you would like to apply that to Mormonism, the BoM and the Prophet Smith in particular. This is way funny! If you want to stand by Mormonism regarding the nature of God, that’s fine, but it’s based on a theology (term used loosely here) that has no resemblence to Chrisitanity or Judism. Mormons indeed take a revealed premise and then scurry about looking for some historical or scriptural evidence to support it. And after all of that, when it falls apart, we hear the old “I bear you my testimony” routine. Now being a Mormon, you kinow that evidence is not all that important, really. It’s the personal revelation that counts especially if it runs contrary to the evidence. The testimony is the evidence right? Mormonism, by it’s very nature, aligns itself with the enemies of the Cross of Christ. Mormonism confesses a different God, a different Jesus, a different Spirit, a different plan of salvation and a different “revealed” scripture all of which is 180 degrees out of phase with historical Christianity.
    “When the Scripture states that man was made in the image of God, we dare not add to that statement an idea from our own head and make it mean ‘in the exact image.’ To do so is to make man a replica of God, and that is to lose the unicity of God and end with no God at all. It is to break down the wall, infinitely high, that separates That-which-is-God from that-which-is-not-God. To think of creature and Creator as alike in essential being is to rob God of most of His attributes and reduce Him to the status of a creature.” (A.W.Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy) This is Mormonism. The Mormon god is way to small and yes, simply a glorified man. Not much of a god really!

  45. faithoffathers says:

    The concept of plural Gods in ancient times is fairly well documented. And the passages of the Old and New Testament alluded to in this blog are not as simple as some make them out to be- sorry falcon.

    Paul Owen, an evangelical scholar who does not agree with our interpretation, nevertheless said the following:

    “Many OT scholars believe Elohim and Yahweh were originally two separate Gods, who have now been blended together in the deuteronomistic revision of the Hebrew Bible. Furthermore, it is commonly believed that Israelite religion evolved from an initially polytheistic faith to the monotheism of the post AD 70 rabbinic period. Many believe that even in the New Testament period, Israelite religion was still in flux with respect to monotheism.”

    It is not something mormons invented. I know we are all scholars in our own minds, but statements like “explaining away the scriptures despite all of the evidence to the contrary” sounds like a rush to judgement based on a narrow view of the scholarship on the topic.

    On one hand, the evangelical view is to take the Bible literally to the extreme in some instances, then to ignore the obvious implications in the case of these scriptures. God refers to Himself as our Father; we were created in His image (Our image); man is become as one of us; ye are gods and all of you are children of the Most High God; we are the offspring of God; joint-heir with Christ; the Father of spirits;

  46. faithoffathers says:

    Accidently hit submit, sorry- continued….

    “when he shall appear, we shall be like him”; “him that overcometh will . . . sit with me in my throne.” etc. etc.

    Our doctrine is based on revelation, ancient and modern. Although you may disagree with the meanings of those ancient passages, I think it reasonable to grant us our reading as reasonable, based on the breadth of present scholarship if nothing else.

    I find it ironic that LDS are criticized for their 8th article of faith which reads “we believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.” Those same critics appeal to different translations of the Bible to support their arguments on definitions and contexts. It seems like a double standard doesn’t it?

    a few thoughts.

    Keep the faith!

  47. Megan says:

    I know this is WAY off-topic, but I just want to tell everyone that there is a new study Bible out: “The Holman Christian Apologetics Study Bible”. I think I have that right; it’s a real mouthful. Anyway, I have asked for it for Christmas and am really excited about it! It has sidebars on common verses misused by cults (I know this will offend our LDS friends on here, but I think we’re all pretty upfront that we believe the other side is wrong about quite a few things. 🙂 )

  48. Berean says:


    You mentioned scholarship…let’s talk about Mormon scholarship on just a few points you referenced. Let’s start with the passage “when he shall appear, we shall be like him” that you mentioned (1 John 3:2-3). I am gathering that you think that this verse means that you can become a god too (exaltation) since that is what most Mormons reference. Why doesn’t the Book of Mormon agree with your conclusions when Joseph Smith rewrote the verse in Moroni 7:48?

    “when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.”

    The context of the JS rewrite is talking about purification – not becoming a god. In all honesty, I agree with JS on this one. True Christians will be purified and sinless at the resurrection. We will not become a god, but be sinlessly perfect and able to stand in his presence.

    In reference to a plurality of gods, I have a challenge for you: Show me the word “Gods” (capitalized “G” and plural) as stated in every verse of Abraham 4 in the Bible or even the Book of Mormon. If you can, I will renounce my Christian denomination, travel to where you live and give you the ward bragging rights of baptizing me into the Mormon Church. If you can’t, all you have to do is admit that the plurality of gods “Gods” is not in the Mormon KJV Bible or the BoM. After all, the BoM is “the most correct book on earth”. This fundamental teaching should be there. If not, then this nullifies the Moroni challenge in Moroni 10:3-5.

    Deal or no deal?

  49. Lautensack says:

    Do you have the source for that quote?


  50. faithoffathers says:


    Long-time, no hear! Good to hear from you.

    As far as 1 John 3 and Moroni, I don’t see any conflict between the two. Mormon had an additional statement about purity. The text in Moroni 7 doesn’t necessarily suggest this was a qualifying clause rather than another comparison between us and God. My general interpretation of the passage “we shall be like Him” is that when we stand again before Him, we will see that we are like God in many ways. I do not say we are anything near Him in power, virture, knowledge, etc. etc. Rather, I am saying that we are the same species, that He is our Father. And if we have accepted the atonement and the gospel, we will be able to stand in purity, feeling comfortable in His presence.

    As far as your challenge, the Book of Abraham is a record of the writings of Abraham, or dictated from him. The passages from the Bible I cited are of course from the KJV Bible, showing a biblical connection to our doctrine. In addition, Defender of the Faith quoted Genesis as follows: “let us make man in our own image,” “ye shall be as the Gods,” “man is become as one of us.” These are clear passages suggested a plurality of Gods- you can interpret them to mean the trinity. But I think you must admit that our interpretation is very reasonable. And if we are to take the scriptures literally, we must accept the individuality of the Father and the Son.

    The Book of Mormon is quite clear in its doctrine of the Father and the Son and their relationship. Among others, Alma 13 is a good one. But, yes- nowhere in the BOM is the word “God” used in plural. This does not necessarily show any contradiction in doctrine.

    I don’t quite understand how any of this negates the promise of Moroni 10. Help me out. Not all truth is of the same value. The truths of greatest value are found in the Book of Mormon, laid out more clearly and powerfully than any other book. Not every principle or doctrine is found in its pages. The “fundamental teaching” of God and His Son are clearly outlined there, even though they are never referred to as “Gods.”


    The quotation from Owens was in an e-mail from him to James White dated April 9, 1998.

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